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A Foot in Both Camps: The American Baby Rubber Plant

A Foot in Both Camps: The American Baby Rubber Plant

Many plant parents eventually find themselves faced with a decision that’s easily overthought: should I get a foliage plant, or should I get a succulent plant?

Both categories of houseplant are robust with options and specific plants that are commonly touted as “the easiest plant out there”, but the truth is a little more murky. The reality of houseplant care is that you as an individual are going to find certain plants easier than others regardless of how easy or hard the rest of the houseplant community finds those plants to be. This should be embraced! It’s empowering to find the plants that work well with your care routine and schedule.

If it were that easy, though, we’d all be successful plant parents. Houseplant care is a journey and a process - you can’t know right off the bat which plants are going to work well with you, regardless of whether they’re succulent or foliage. 

There is, however, an often overlooked compromise between foliage and succulents. Enter the American Baby Rubber Plant!

This plant, Peperomia obtusifolia, belongs to a small group of houseplants that those in the know sometimes refer to as “semi-succulent”. This means that it grows like a normal foliage plant, but its leaves have some “succulence” (water-retention) which makes it drought tolerant. It’s basically exactly halfway between a foliage plant and a succulent plant.

There are any number of benefits to this: because its leaves retain some water, they visibly wrinkly a bit when the plant is thirsty (which makes your job easier); instead of watering as often as a foliage plant on top of misting, you can just set it and forget it for a week or two; they’re harder to overwater than succulents are; the list keeps on going. 

The bottom line is that this one plant can take out so much of the indecision for any plant parent. Never had a plant before and don’t know which route to take? Have too many succulents at home but not confident enough yet to move into proper foliage territory? Have too many foliage plants and want to try something new? Where you might otherwise get caught in a cycle of indecision, you can just go with P. obtusifolia.

We’re not sure why this plant isn’t more well-known. It’s easy to care for, it saves you some worry, and it’s native to Florida so you know it isn’t being imported from some over-harvested foreign rainforest. 

Help us spread the word! If you’re looking for a new direction in your plant collection or are just starting out, consider getting an American baby rubber plant!

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